Album Reviews

Dark Mark vs Skeleton Joe – Album Review

Dark Mark vs Skeleton Joe – Album Review
by Killian Laher

A new release from Mark Lanegan has just emerged, this time a collaboration with Joe Cardamone, from Icarus Line.  Fans of Lanegan’s more stripped-down material aren’t catered for here.  Instead, the pair have conjured up a set of pretty full-on electronica.  What this means, in reality, is the album is a mixture of pulsing, beat-heavy ominous dance tunes and more chilled-out slabs of gloom, not far removed from Lanegan’s last few ‘band’ albums.

Creepy keyboards and sinister laughter introduce Living Dead, one of several ‘dance’ songs, of which it’s unlikely anybody would really dance to.  Lanegan belts out the lyrics like a bruised bear with someone standing on its tail.  No Justice features Lanegan and Cardamone’s voices mixing seamlessly over more dance rhythms, while Sanctified is another slab of robodance.

But chilled out, slower tracks are more the order of the day here.  Some of it (Lay Me Down, Cold Summer) is reminiscent of recent Nick Cave material.  Early on, Lanegan channels Cave on Lost Animals, crooning “don’t live a life like mine”, and fans of Lanegan’s world-weary growl will enjoy this, Crime and much of this material.  Hiraeth and Sunday Morning 2:30 AM are moody but strangely uplifting, in a kind of fucked-up, Drive soundtrack, David Lynch way.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Turning In Reverse is just fantastic.  It’s pure New Order, and is what some might call an absolute banger!  It suits Cardamone and Lanegan well, probably the best collaborative track here.  It’s back to death disco for the 12-minute multipart Skeleton Joe Manifesto, which I believe is a fine exponent of what’s referred to as ‘dark wave’, insistent and menacing.

At sixteen tracks over an hour and a quarter, there’s a lot to digest here.  It’s the most electronic material Mark Lanegan has done to date, the culmination of the last nine years of more and more keyboards appearing on his albums.  While it’s by no means Grade A Lanegan, it’s an interesting, immersive collection that will pull you back for repeat listens.

No Justice

Categories: Album Reviews, Header, Music

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